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May 19, 2008 / lazybug

The Bluest Eye

…this is a terrible story about things one would rather not know anything about.

Toni Morrison‘s The Bluest Eye is a novel that lays bare the core of the life and psychology of America’s black population. Set in the backdrop of the American Depression of 1940s, the Nobel Laureate author tells the story of a 12 year-old girl Pecola, who wants only one thing: the bluest eyes in the world. The story is narrated by multiple characters, who, at some stage or the other, have been a part in Pecola’s life. Morrison gives a telling commentary on the life of African Americans at a time when racism was at its peak. The very foundation of the lives of these peole was built around the belief that they were the inferiors in country dominated by whites. This belief is what she refers to as ‘racial self­contempt’.

Morisson’s writing is simple, rivetting and shocking among other things. By providing the perspectives of multiple characters, Morrisson leaves the interpretation and understanding to the reader. Indeed, I cannot think of a better way of telling so much about a complex set of peolple and their lives in so few words. The whole idea behind the novel and her presentation is explained in the Afterword by her.

I focused…on how something as grotesque as the demonization of an entire race could take root inside the most delicate member of society: a child; the most vulnerable member: a female.

Some thoughts…

This is the first time I have read something that has hit me so hard.

The sheer clarity of thought and understanding that Morrison brings, left me thinking, at times for several minutes, trying to understand the depth of the thought(s).

Every time I thought I had grasped what she was trying to get to, the story would zoom into something totally new.

Morrison moves between first person accounts of various characters with ease. She also takes the liberty of keeping all the voices aside to provide the narrator’s perspective at one stage in the novel.

The memorable lines…

These are some of the lines that left me fascinated. The fact that I was reading the e-book version helped in copy-pasting them with ease. Please note that the context is not mentioned.

If happiness was anticipation with certainity, we were happy.

…the change was adjustment without improvement.

His lumpy red hand plops around in the glass casing like the agitated head of a chicken outraged by the loss of its body.

Anger is better. There is a sense of being in anger. A reality and presence. An awareness of worth. It is a lovely surging.

All three of the women laughed. Marie threw back her head. From deep inside, her laughter came like the sound of many rivers, freely, deeply, muddily, heading for the room of an open sea.

But the aspect of married life that dumbfounded him and rendered him totally disfunctional was the appearance of children. Having no idea of how to raise children, and having never watched any parent raise himself, he could not even comprehend what such a relationship should be.

Along with the idea of romantic love, she was introduced to another­­–physical beauty. Probably the most destructive ideas in the history of human thought. Both originated in envy, thrived in insecurity, and ended in disillusion.

Frankly, I am too unqualified a reader to be able to put all my thoughts about the novel in words. Therefore, this post is at best a feeble attempt at trying to do just that. I strongly suggest reading the book and developing one’s own perspective.

P.S Thank yous are due to Vandana for suggesting the book.

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3 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. sridevi / May 21 2008 4:54 pm

    Must be a good novel indeed! The sentences that you mentioned there portray the emotions dealt in it. Especially, I liked the first two and the fourth. Simple but thought-provoking!

  2. prityjaiswal / May 23 2008 10:41 am

    Pulitzer prize winner Morrison certainly leaves u numb. I was too when I read her ‘Beloved’. The novel compels us to look at the power of memory and history. We have to understand that to build a future we need to come to terms with the past specially for people who have been denied the power of language. ‘Sethe’ the protagonistof ‘Beloved’ is haunted by the ghost of her two years old daughter whose throat she slit with a saw-knife to relieve her of slavery..
    Her narratives crawl your skin long after you have closed the book

  3. Manpreet / Jun 2 2008 5:17 am

    Can you please tell me the source of your e-book version of the novel. If you have it, can you send me? If you can give me the link, it will be equally wonderful.

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